The Off-Broadway Players “cut loose”

As my last semester in college winds down, I was fortunate enough to be able to see two musical theater/dance productions in the same week.  The first, as I blogged about before, was Beauty and the Beast at the Hanover Theater.  Put on by a professional company, Beauty and the Beast cast was made up of trained singers and actors with years of experience.  However, when I took the time to step away from the professionals and watch a performance done by those my own age – those who very obviously love what they do – it was both humbling and touching.

In this case, I went to see Footloose at UMass Lowell.  The university’s theater company, “The Off-Broadway Players” has put on numerous shows such as You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and is widely known around Massachusetts for being one of the most talented and dedicated student-run companies.  I was fortunate enough to know the lead, Nathan Trubiano who played Kevin Bacon’s original role of Ren McCormack.  Coincidentally, Trubiano is one of my best friends from high school and someone with whom I did four years of theater.

I wasn’t disappointed by my friend.  Trubiano and his cast put on an impressive display of vocal and dance talent.  With multiple group numbers, it was hard not to be entertained.  Trubiano , althought not an experienced dancer, was able to pull off the routine with style andgrace, blowing away even me- the toughest dance critic he knows.

I was very excited that I got to see Footloose at UMass Lowell.  It was a great parallel to the professional and collegiate performances I had seen prior in the semeter. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I hope many students are able to take part in.

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Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 7:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Hanover Theater Presents… Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

On Sunday, May 2, 2010, I was lucky enough to see Disney’s Beauty & the Beast at Worcester’s Hanover Theater.   As I entered the auditorium, I was greeted by friendly ushers eager to show me to my seat.  In the center of Balcony Row L, I took my seat (number 209) and anxiously awaited the performance.

Even before the curtain went up, one could tell the set would be extravagant.  An elaborately painted archway framed the stage and a see-through front drop displayed a single red rose in full bloom.  At 6:30 p.m., the lights dimmed; the orchestra began playing the Prologue and the auditorium was filled with the familiar aria of the same Beauty and the Beast I recalled from my childhood.

I was suddenly swept away in a rush of memories, emotions and nostalgia as the curtain rose and the stage was exposed.  The lead actress, the beautiful and elegant Belle, glided across the stage, her voice enthralling the audience from her first note.

Almost every musical number involved dance movement of some kind, but none matched the intricate choreography of my two favorite songs in the show — “Gaston” and the ever-famous “Be Our Guest.”

It was no surprise to me that the character of Gaston would be played by a tall, brawny man but who knew such a manly man could dance?  After a comical opening to the number (poor Lefou being knocked down all over the stage!), the silly girls and other male cast members came into the bar scene and began dancing with one another, beer mugs in hand.  In line-dance formation, each character had two silver mugs, one for each hand.  They proceeded to dance the entire routine clanging the mugs against one another in rhythmic succession.  Sequences of lifts and partner dancing also made this routine one to remember.

During the second half of the show, Belle, who is hungry after refusing to have dinner with the Beast, makes her way to the kitchen only to be hosted by Lumiere and a company of singing, dancing plates, silverware, napkins, everything essential to a fully functioning kitchen.  My favorite part of the routine was when the silverware lifted Belle above them and proceeded to dance in circles with her in the air.  It was almost nerve-wrecking to watch but I was thoroughly impressed by the end of the number.

So who is responsible for the extravagant display of dancing talent?  Matt West received the L.A. Drama-Logue Award for his work with Beauty and the Beast.  He also received nominations for London’s Olivier, New York’s Drama Desk and Outer Critics’ Circle awards and recognitions.  West has numerous experience working with Disney and is currently on productions in California and Japan.  I would very much like to see what other work he has produced (especially it if means I must travel to Disney Worlds around the world to witness it!)

Overall, I very much enjoyed Beauty and the Beast.  It creatively and succesfully  brought together musical theater and dance for an impressive and delightful display of talent.  I would not mind seeing it again and I will be sure to see their next production coming in the Spring of 2011.

* I’d like to thank the Assumption College English Department for making it possible for me to see Beauty andthe Beast at the Hanover Theater by financing my ticket!  I had an amazing experience because of all of you.

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment